Upholstery Shop Woos Customers with Breakfast

Published by Nadeem Muaddi on September 8th, 2013

Auto Upholstery - The Hog Ring - Perfect Upholstery LLC

Every auto upholstery shop has a backstory. Perfect Upholstery LLC in Weston, Wi has one of the most unique we’ve heard in a long time. What started as a Saturday morning breakfast meet up for car enthusiasts “snowballed” into a thriving auto upholstery shop.

Owners Mark & Alice Sliwicki recently told their story to the Wausau Daily Herald:

Originally, the idea was for a bunch of car nuts to meet Saturday mornings at Mark Sliwicki’s new garage for breakfast and to work on their vehicles.

“Except that we never worked on the cars,” said Mark, 56. “We just had breakfast and started talking about what happened yesterday, and what happened in the last week.”

That was more than a decade ago, and the garage has been a meeting place for car enthusiasts such as Mark and his wife, Alice, ever since. […]

It’s no ordinary garage. It’s a hybrid clubhouse and auto shop, and Mark and Alice use it to restore and store their own fleet of antique vehicles…

The shop also has a kind of dining room, and a bar at which people can sit around. It’s packed to the gills with auto memorabilia, and when the group meets, it also gets filled with laughing, teasing and exaggerated story-telling.

The Sliwickis call it “Uncle Jack’s Brew & Chew and Words of Wisdom,” and it’s such a welcoming place that people just keep going back again and again. It’s not about the building, and it’s not about the cars, they say. […]

Along the way, Mark and Alice attended an upholstery school in California, a yearlong program they enrolled in so they could better restore their own cars. After they graduated, they opened Perfect Upholstery, in which they specialize in recreating old auto and truck seats and other interior items.

The business has “just snowballed,” Mark said.

The Sliwickis have found a way to blend passion, family, fun, friends and business in a seamless way that has developed into the Saturday morning breakfast gatherings. [more]

Despite their success, the Sliwickis have maintained their Saturday morning breakfast tradition. In fact, it’s how they attract a lot of their new customers. How’s that for a marketing strategy?

To read the full article, check out “Weston couple’s backyard garage has become a clubhouse for car lovers“. To read more about other upholstery businesses, visit the “Shop Profiles” section of The Hog Ring.




4 Responses

  1. KMCustoms KMCustoms says:

    That a great story!! Luved it!

  2. This is a great story! It’s hard for me to explain to start ups what it means for your shop to be part of the community, but this story is a perfect example of that concept. The big guys talk about corporate responsibility, and we can think of many examples of volunteerism and charitable contributions, but what Mark and Alice of Perfect Upholstery are doing is truly grass roots and from the heart. Like the customer in the article said, ““If you need help, Mark and Alice will do anything for you.” And keep in mind that small business advisers often emphasize the importance of community service.

    Jamillah Warner, a marketing specialist, reminds us that “Social programs not only help people in need, but also provide marketing opportunities for the generous, smart and socially aware small business owner. It can be profitable to serve (for both you and the charity).” Granted, it is easy to be cynical about a company like Exxon-Mobil sponsoring a wetlands cleanup program, and there are certainly many companies that see the profit side of community service more than the ‘feel good’ side of it. However, stories like Perfect Upholstery’s breakfast club remind us that small businesses like ours can be a very important part of the community.

    OK, philosophical side trip . . . I like to imagine a time before capitalism when bartering was the way things worked (and still do in many parts of the world). You have something that people need, and you exchange what they have for what you have. I’ll try to avoid conversations about human nature and why we wind up trying to take instead of give anymore, but the point is that if you try to help people, people will try to help you.

    Mark and Alice started this breakfast tradition before they even opened the upholstery business, and that shows the people of the community that they are in it for the spirit of community rather than just squeezing more profit whenever possible. It may sound hippie, commie, ridiculously idealistic, but I really wish all business were run this way. We provide a needed service to our communities, and we can do very well when we all look out for each other. Remind you of an upholsterer’s website you’ve heard of?

    –Jim


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *